Like pretty much everywhere else in the pop music universe, China's developing rock scene changed after Nirvana. It's just that China's rockers didn't get the memo in 1991, nor would've known what to do with it, then.
From pivotal concerts by local legends to controversial visits from international rock superstars, clashes with state censors and government-sponsored rock festivals, this work encapsulates the thrills and frustrations experienced by Chinese rockers.
There is something familiar to me in that idea of an abandoned past; in a place like Beijing, you too can become anybody, literally. Because of the disconnect between here and Back Home, you can create for yourself the identity you've always wanted.
In the first in a series of examinations of foreign musicians we meet the Subs, a Chinese band who, no matter how good (or bad) their music, are first and foremost Chinese -- whether they like it or not.
The Beijing music-buying experience is daunting and disorienting, rife with clogged cardboard boxes, cut-outs, and pirated imports. In a highly censored market, the explicitly illegal discs may also be the most necessary.
Urban cool Beijingers are happy to spend their money on alcohol, karaoke, and high-end food. But when it comes to paying a cover to attend a live show, something happens: their sense of self-importance precludes their willingness to pay to be entertained by others.
A dozen Francais artists -- including electro-jazz troupe St Germain and tango-meets-dub-and-beats act Gotan Project, among others -- played a massive stage in a downtown Beijing park to an audience of several thousand merry revellers.